Character Try, Try Again: Helping Your Six-Year-Old Develop Grit

Grit involves sticking with something until you succeed. It’s another word for perseverance and resilience, and it gives us the strength to try, try, try again. Grit supports a “growth mindset” – a belief that our intelligence and skills can grow with effort. Kids with a growth mindset thrive on challenges and view failure as part of the learning process. For a six-year-old, grit might look like sticking with a task at school, even when it seems difficult; identifying skills they want to develop and practicing them; and using strategies when they feel frustrated.

Grit involves sticking with something until you succeed. It’s is another word for perseverance and resilience, and it gives us the strength to try, try, try again. Grit supports a “growth mindset” –  a belief that our intelligence and skills can grow with effort.  Kids with a growth mindset thrive on challenges, show resilience in the face of obstacles, and view failure as part of the learning process. 

For a six year old, grit might look like sticking with a task at school, even when it seems difficult; identifying skills they want to develop and practicing them; and using strategies when they feel frustrated. 

Try these tips to help your child develop a "growth mindset" and learn to persevere:

Use Process Praise

Process praise is descriptive and helps kids develop perseverance.  Rather than simply saying, “Good work!” or “That’s great!,” share your specific observations about what your child is doing. This gives kids information about how they might act in the future. Process praise can be as simple as replacing “Good job” with “Good job sharing toys with your sister.” Here are a few more examples of what process praise sounds like:

  • “You cleaned up your room without being asked. Thank you for being a helper.”
  • “Wow, you spent a lot of time figuring out how to solve that math problem. That’s how you become a mathematician.”
  • “Your coach told me that you worked on your swing over and over at practice today without complaining!

Practice Cognitive Control

The area of the brain in charge of focus and attention continues to grow into early adulthood. Encourage kids to read books, play games that require attention to detail, build complex block structures or jigsaw puzzles, or practice a piece of music over and over again –  these are all activities that will help young brains grow and help kids increase their ability to persevere. 

Remind Kids of Their Successes

Research indicates that children who hear stories about how family members overcame obstacles are more resilient in the face of challenges. Similarly, you can remind children of their own stories of perseverance —  specific moments when they worked hard to learn a new skill or stuck with a difficult challenge. For example, when they are struggling with learning a new skill, you might say something like, “Remember when you were learning how to ride a bike? You fell down a lot at first and got really frustrated. But you didn’t give up.  You kept practicing and now you are a great biker.”

Try these tips to help your child persevere:

Use Process Praise

Process praise is descriptive and helps kids develop perseverance. Rather than simply saying, "Good work!" or "That's great!," share your specific observations about what your child is doing. This gives kids information about how they might act in the future. Process praise can be as simple as replacing "Good job" with "Good job sharing toys with your sister." Here are a few more examples of what process praise sounds like:

  • "You cleaned up your room without being asked. Thank you for being a helper."
  • "Wow, you spent a lot of time figuring out how to solve that math problem. That's how you become a mathematician."
  • "Your coach told me that you worked on your swing over and over at practice today without complaining!"

Practice Cognitive Control

The area of the brain in charge of focus and attention continues to grow into early adulthood. Encourage kids to read books, play games that require attention to detail, build complex block structures or jigsaw puzzles or practice a piece of music over and over again — these are all activities that will help young brains grow and help kids increase their ability to persevere. 

Creature Duty

Odd Squad agents take care of all sorts of creatures. Using math skills such as color and shape matching, fair shares and fractions, your child can help feed and care for these adorable creatures.

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Remind Kids of Their Successes

Research indicates that children who hear stories about how family members overcame obstacles are more resilient in the face of challenges. Similarly, you can remind children of their own stories of perseverance — specific moments when they worked hard to learn a new skill or stuck with a difficult challenge. For example, when they are struggling with learning a new skill, you might say something like, "Remember when you were learning how to ride a bike? You fell down a lot at first and got really frustrated. But you didn't give up. You kept practicing and now you are a great biker."

Build Good Character Skills with Arthur

Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old

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